IHL Commissioner’s Listening Tour stops at Alcorn

The Alcorn State University community gathered in the Dr. Clinton Bristow Jr. Dining Facility Gold Room to explore methods of pushing the University forward.

The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) Commissioner's Listening Tour hosted an Open Forum with Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr. Wednesday, Oct. 10. The purpose of the tour was for Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr, IHL commissioner to engage in an open dialog about the progress of the University with students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

One of the topics during the session was housing. Because of Alcorn's consistent growth over the last few years, more strategies have gone into finding ways to house the influx of students. Rankins suggested that the university should consider offering more full degree programs online to combat housing issues.

"Alcorn should focus on offering more programs online because of the limited living space on campus," said Rankins. "One opportunity that would help the university to grow is by offering non-traditional or professional students full online degree programs. That way, they can be fully enrolled without needing to live on campus."

The qualifications of Rankins' predecessor as president also were discussed. Rankins said that the right person would be a proven leader with intentions of committing to the university long term.

"Alcorn needs a president who has the proper experience to lead this campus. Also, it needs to be someone to have the potential to stay here for a long time. So finding a good fit for Alcorn is very critical because stability and leadership are very important for this institution."

Rankins provided advice to leaders at Alcorn about financial responsibility.

"I think its incumbent upon leadership at Alcorn to make financial adjustments and plan as if funds will go away. During the recent session, the legislature was kind enough to give us additional funds to offset the recent decrease in funding. From a planning perspective at the university level, I think you need to plan accordingly because the legislature is only obligated to give you what is outlined in the settlement agreement."

One of the final topics that Rankins elaborated on was informing students about being financially responsible when applying for loans. Rankins said that financial literacy would prevent students from making mistakes that would affect them in the future.

"We must tell the story of the value of their education and provide financial literacy to our students. We have students who take out unnecessary loans solely for refund checks. Don't take out a loan unless it's for funding your education."

Rankins concluded by thanking everyone for their participation.